Last month, we published the first of what will be many blogs centered upon resiliency and how it affects our health and wellness. Here at Total Nutrition and Therapeutics, we take a holistic view of health and wellness. We see many ways to build resilience and many ways in which resilience manifests in us. Today, we’re going to talk about a miracle food for building resilience: microgreens.
Better yet, for today’s blog, we interviewed an extremely talented nutritionist, horticulturist, engineer, consultant–the list goes on and on, but there’s one word Jennifer Waxman uses to describe herself that perhaps fits best: Visionary.
Jennifer believes our agriculture and food system are inextricably linked–and broken. With decades of experience in this wide-ranging field, Jennifer is on a quest to fix it. Along the way, she’s stumbled upon an incredible superfood with the power to quite literally change our lives.
Meet Jennifer Waxman: agriculture and nutrition extraordinaire
“Growing up,” says Jennifer, executive director and visionary of The Villages Grown, “my friends hated eating at my house because everything was always healthy.” You can hear the air quotes in Jennifer’s voice as she says “healthy”; as if she still doesn’t get why they think health comes at the cost of taste.
The Villages Grown is a lot of great things. A grower of high-quality foods, they’ve managed to turn one square acre into ten–by stacking nine square acres atop the first. “Vertical farming,” Jennifer calls it. But, far more than a farming group, The Villages Grown is the preeminent link between farms and tables, connecting farmers, produce sellers, restaurants, and eaters. Straight from The Villages Grown website, we read:
“The Villages Grown is a hyper-local community food system, anchored by a 45-acre innovative growing complex and facilitated by our markets and partner establishments. This community food system is designed to benefit not only the health of the residents, but that of the environment and economy. It’s all about cultivating a vibrant community where people feel great and live life to the fullest.”
Jennifer is a self-proclaimed aggregator of farms. In bringing more farms, restaurants, and eaters into her fold, The Villages Grown works to unite families, farms, and even towns and cities, under the banner of proper growing and healthy eating.
Why Jennifer is spreading the word about microgreens
Just like Total Nutrition and Therapeutics’, while Jennifer’s goal–to bring healthy food to the people–may sound simple, its execution is anything but. With a million ways to improve the inextricable system between agriculture and healthy eating, Jennifer has worked on everything from overhauling hydroponic technologies to consulting with pretty much any business in the agriculture and food industry.
Despite all these irons in the fire, Jennifer is particularly focused on spreading the word about microgreens. It may sound strange, but people like Jennifer have well-documented reasons to believe that microgreens, along with other microcrops, can upend our presently broken system of agriculture and healthy eating.
A cup of microgreens a day…
Microgreens are just one of countless microfoods supercharged with nutrients. Practically any plant that yields edible crops can be served in this form. That is, microgreens aren’t a new species of plant or set of species. Micro-broccoli, for example, is simply broccoli–only it’s been harvested far earlier than normal.
The benefits of microgreens are glaringly obvious once you take a peek at the science. From the results of a study conducted at Sloan Kettering, Jennifer (who, by the way, is also a researcher at Sloan Kettering) and company found that a single cup of micro-broccoli contains the nutritional value of a bushel-and-a-half of mature broccoli.
For reference, one bushel contains roughly 148 cups. That’s well over 200 cups of broccoli stuffed into one single cup.
Recalibrating the balance between agriculture and healthy eating
Microgreens are already gaining traction. For the first time, a food group has been added to the list of FDA-approved medicines; microgreens are so robust, they’ve been included with medicines that relieve pain, reduce fevers, aid digestion, and fight cancer.
Such a powerful food has the potential to rebalance the system, which is broken, its remains scattered within the malnourished bodies of Western society. Microfoods and other organic crops won’t just feed people the right way. They’ll also lower the carbon footprint, reduce acreage (such as The Villages Grown’s vertical growth methods), and condition people to associate wellness with microgreens and everything that goes into growing them.
Microgreens and their cousins aren’t overly difficult to grow. Jennifer described micro-broccoli as the “three-year-old version of broccoli.” Just like our wee tot humans, young broccoli is absolutely bursting with energy in preparation for growth. The challenges presented by the prospect of growing microgreens are not much different than those of growing healthy, matured foods–and, amid scores of achievements, one of Jennifer’s greatest is having found the key to unlocking yield volume as compared to industrial farms.
That is, with Jennifer’s method, organic farmers can think nutrition first, volume second, and still yield the same amount of crops as the bigger, less healthy players in the market.
Microgreens and resilience
Hewing to our mission, we here at Total Nutrition & Therapeutics are especially interested in the ways microgreens bolster our resilience. Not surprisingly, Jennifer had no trouble reciting all the benefits.
Most apparent is the fact that these high-energy microgreens provide nutrients–e.g. vitamins, minerals, and healthy macronutrients. Both macronutrients, such as lean protein, and micronutrients, like vitamins and minerals, help strengthen our immune systems, even out our glucose levels, lower bad cholesterol, and so much more. And anything that improves our health and functionality also improves our resilience.
Jennifer touched on some not-so-obvious benefits as well. For one, self-reliance, whether in growing food yourself or building a close relationship with a local grower, instills in us a sense of resilience. Unchaining oneself from the broken food system provides a sense of empowerment–a sense that grows even stronger when we spread our knowledge and experience. We also get a sense of goodwill for having done the right thing.
Microgreens as part of the larger mission
For people like Jennifer Waxman, food is a way of life. What we put into our bodies quite literally makes up what we are. It only stands to reason that it would also play a large role in who we are. The virtues inherent to the process of healthy agriculture and eating wield the power to totally transform the way we live as a society.
This might sound like a tall order for such a small food. But health efficiency embedded within microgreens carries a profound message regarding how we conduct our lives. Part of this message is the resiliency of our very planet, which survived the industrial age.
What will carry us into the future healthfully is innovation. Those willing to take risks, critical thinkers, and pioneers, who believe in the power of food, and don’t fold to commercialized farming. Those who respect the criticality of true organic food and are working hard to improve the production with new ideas and methods to maintain supply. Only then can we face and help each other during these unprecedented times. Resilience will breed naturally from this commitment to our mission.
Contact Total Nutrition and Therapeutics for more information about microgreens and nutrition
The industrial food system is broken. Relying on agriculture corporations interested in yield numbers, we can’t access proper nutrients without proper organic farming. Total Nutrition & Therapeutics believes that resiliency lies within healthy eating–specifically microgreens. Visit our website and The Villages Grown to find out more about what Total Nutrition and Therapeutics is doing to fight the stigma surrounding ED!